Magic Johnson’s abrupt exit from the Lakers on Tuesday raised a lot of questions. The first two on everyone’s mind: Why? And why now?
Magic gave his answers, that he just was not happy in the job and didn’t want to disappoint his close friend Jeanie Buss, and didn’t like getting his hands dirty firing Luke Walton as coach.
But was he really just trying to get out in front of a story about harassment in the workplace?
There had been some buzz around the harassment topic for a while, ESPN is reportedly looking into and writing about it, and Tania Ganguli of the Los Angeles Times broached the idea of that being why Magic left because she wasn’t the only one thinking it.
As word spread through the Lakers’ organization and the NBA, several people wondered whether Johnson’s departure was related to a yet-to-be-published article by ESPN that is said to address allegations about Johnson’s conduct with employees.
“That story is wrong,” Johnson told the Los Angeles Times.
He later added to a group of reporters: “Never disrespected anybody. Never did anything bad. Am I tough? Hell, yeah! You work for me, I’m demanding. But at the same time I’m fair. They’ve been talking about that article for how many months? Everybody running, ‘Oh they’re writing an article.’ I’m gonna say, why didn’t they interview anybody at ESPN? If I was doing something wrong to employees disrespecting, this or that, think they would’ve hired me twice?”
Actually, people get second chances when they are good friends with the owner of the business all the time.
Did Magic cross the line and harass employees? We need a lot more information to draw any conclusions there.
However, when a guy resigns before telling his good friend and boss, before telling key employees who should have known (LeBron James and his team were in the dark, as was Luke Walton), then it raises questions. Him trying to get out in front of a harassment stories fills in some of those gaps. That doesn’t make it true.
Life changing decisions are rarely made because of just one factor — Magic was not doing a good job, kept running afoul of tampering rules, and genuinely did not seem to enjoy the job. He was doing it part-time. Potential harassment issues may or may not have been part of this mix.
But it could be the best thing for the Lakers if owner Jeanie Buss gets bold.